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Analysis of tissue microstructure with Mueller microscopy: Logarithmic decomposition and Monte Carlo modeling

: Li, Pengcheng; Lee, Hee Ryung; Chandel, Shubham; Lotz, Christian; Groeber-Becker, Florian Kai; Dembski, Sofia; Ossikovski, Razvigor; Ma, Hui; Novikova, Tatiana


Journal of biomedical optics 25 (2020), No.1, Art. 015002, 11 pp.
ISSN: 1083-3668
ISSN: 1560-2281
Journal Article
Fraunhofer ISC ()
logarithmic decomposition; Mueller polarimetry; polarized Monte Carlo algorithm; rotation invariants; scattering anisotropic media; skin tissue models

Significance: Definitive diagnostics of many diseases is based on the histological analysis of thin tissue cuts with optical white light microscopy. Extra information on tissue structural properties obtained with polarized light would help the pathologist to improve the accuracy of his diagnosis.
Aim: We report on using Mueller matrix microscopy data, logarithmic decomposition, and polarized Monte Carlo (MC) modeling for qualitative and quantitative analysis of thin tissue cuts to extract the information on tissue microstructure that is not available with a conventional white light microscopy.
Approach: Unstained cuts of human skin equivalents were measured with a custom-built liquid-crystal-based Mueller microscope in transmission configuration. To interpret experimental data, we performed the simulations with a polarized MC algorithm for scattering anisotropic media. Several optical models of tissue (spherical scatterers within birefringent host medium, and combination of spherical and cylindrical scatterers within either isotropic or birefringent host medium) were tested.
Results: A set of rotation invariants for the logarithmic decomposition of a Mueller matrix was derived to rule out the impact of sample orientation. These invariants were calculated for both simulated and measured Mueller matrices of the dermal layer of skin equivalents. We demonstrated that only the simulations with a model combining both spherical and cylindrical scatterers within birefringent host medium reproduced the experimental trends in optical properties of the dermal layer (linear retardance, linear dichroism, and anisotropic linear depolarization) with layer thickness.
Conclusions: Our studies prove that Mueller polarimetry provides relevant information not only on a size of dominant scatterers (e.g., cell nuclei versus subwavelength organelles) but also on its shape (e.g., cells versus collagen fibers). The latter is directly related to the state of extracellular collagen matrix, which is often affected by early pathology. Hence, using polarimetric data can help to increase the accuracy of diagnosis.